Democrats Win Major Net Neutrality Victory

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In June of 2018, the Trump administration repealed the Obama-era Net Neutrality law which was put in place to ensure that internet service providers would offer equal access to all web content, and prohibit them from charging more for certain content or from giving preferential treatment to certain websites.

Since then, Democrats have been pushing to reinstate the 2015 net neutrality rules, and have written a bill called the Save the Internet Act, which advanced through party line votes today to the full Energy and Commerce Committee where it appears that the bill will advance from there to the full House.

According to Forbes:

‘Pennsylvania Democrat Mike Doyle, the author of the bill and chair of the subcommittee on communications and technology, argued that the measure was necessary to “put a cop back on the beat to protect consumers, small business and competitors form unjust and unreasonable practice by internet service providers.”

‘Doyle’s bill would reinstate the net neutrality rules the Federal Communications Commission enacted in 2015, which prohibited ISPs from slowing or blocking traffic on their networks, and barred paid prioritization agreements where websites and applications could pay for speedy transmission of their content.’

Doyle also said:

‘Opponents of this legislation need to ask themselves, what are the unjust and unreasonable practices that they want ISPs to be allowed to engage in, and why would we want to allow .’

Opponents of the bill said this morning that while they do favor legislation that would prevent internet providers from taking advantage of the freedom to do whatever they want, basically, but they reject how the original legislation in 2015 was written legally.

Forbes explains:

‘That order reclassifed broadband operators as telecommunications providers under Title II of the Communications Act. That designation, which applies to traditional phone networks and has a long history of specific regulations that ISPs are keen to avoid, has been and remains the central fault line in the debate.

“It’s a real missed opportunity,” said Bob Latta (R-Ohio), the ranking member on the subcommittee. “The idea that only Title II can be real net neutrality is dangerous and wrong.”‘

But, it does look like there may be hope of a compromise, as, on the other side of the Hill, both Democratic and Republican senators are working together. Earlier this month, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) announced the formation of a bipartisan net neutrality working group.

Wicker said:

‘The mission of this working group will be to put partisan politics aside in order to provide permanent internet protections.

‘We need clear rules of the road that prohibit providers from blocking or throttling access to lawful content and provide transparency and consumer choice.’

This is a good sign, but we should expect Republicans to be extremely skeptical, as just yesterday they were grilling a committee attorney in order to possibly find legal loopholes to use to overturn the bill in the future. While this is not surprising, we do hope that they can come to some sort of agreement soon.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.